[ExI] Mark Sisson on fasting and longevity

Dave Sill sparge at gmail.com
Tue Mar 27 20:32:04 UTC 2012


*A time-honored and research-tested way to extend an animal’s lifespan is
to restrict its caloric intake. Studies repeatedly confirm that if, say, a
lab mouse normally gets two full bowls of lab chow a day, limiting that
mouse to one and a half bowls of lab chow a day will make that mouse live
longer than the mouse eating the full two bowls. Cool, cool, a longer life
is great and all, but what about the downsides of straight calorie
restriction, aside from willfully restricting your food intake, ignoring
hunger pangs, relegating yourself to feeling discontent with meals, and
counting calories and macronutrients obsessively? Are there any others?
*Loss of muscle mass. Humans undergoing calorie restriction often suffer
loss of lean muscle mass and strength, all pretty objectively negative
effects (unless you really go for the gaunt “Christian Bale in The
Machinist” look and use a super-strong bionic exoskeleton for all your
physical tasks).*
*Loss of bone mineral density. Humans who calorie restrict in studies also
show signs of lower bone mineral density when compared to humans who lose
weight from exercise, particularly in the hip and spine – the two areas
most susceptible to fall-related bone breaks. I wrote about this study some
time ago here.*
*Oh, and there’s the fact that the act of restricting one’s calories can be
mind-numbing, miserable, and difficult for a great many people, especially
if it’s a lifelong pursuit. (Unless, of course, you eat according to the
Primal Blueprint and are fat-adapted. It can make CR not only tolerable,
but a cinch because we become so good at living off stored body fat. We
don’t suffer from sugar lows when we skip meals the way most people who
fast do, but I digress.) That’s kind of a biggie.*


*Bottom line: fasting may not work by some magical pathway separate from
caloric restriction. It may, but it hasn’t been established. What we do
know is that fasting (whether by inadvertent, enhanced calorie restriction
or whatever else) improves lifespan in lab mammals and improves various
health markers associated with aging and longevity in both humans and
animals. Fasting may not give you an immediate “Life + 25″ boost, and there
haven’t been any real lifespan and fasting studies done on humans (if only
we had mice-like lifespans!), but if it makes you less likely to get obese,
diabetes, heart disease, or cancer, you’re less likely to die from those
things. The fewer things you have trying to kill you, the longer you
generally live.*

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